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Ranger School marks its centennial year


WANAKENA — The Ranger School is starting its centennial celebration with the painting of a mural in its main classroom by Barry D. Nehr, an alumnus and retired illustrator for the U.S. Forest Service.

The 47-foot-long mural contains scenes from the forest, including ponds and trees, along with osprey, owls and a few deer.

“Lands and wildlife are soothing,” Mr. Nehr said. “It’s realistic but in an impressionistic style.”

Mr. Nehr went to work for the Forest Service after his 1960 graduation from the school. Harry L. Rossoll, whose drawings helped make Smokey the Bear famous, saw a brochure he illustrated and brought him to Atlanta to become his assistant.

Six years later, Mr. Rossoll retired and Mr. Nehr took over his job. After 20 years, Mr. Nehr left the forestry service in 1989 and went to work for Southern Custom Exhibits, which provides background murals for various clients.

Mr. Nehr, who used to do the alumni news covers for the Ranger School, said he has been trying to return to his alma mater for more than 50 years, so he was happy to paint the mural for the school’s 100th birthday.

At commencement this year, speakers will talk about the significance of those graduating in the school’s centennial year.

The Ranger School began in 1912 as part of the New York State College of Forestry in Syracuse. In addition to its forest technology program, a surveying program was added in 1995 and a program in environmental and natural resource conservation began in 2011.

The centennial celebration will officially kick off with the Alumni Reunion on Aug. 3 and 4. The weekend will include speakers, a performance by the Norwood Brass Firemen, a barbecue and fireworks.

The biggest and most public event will take place the last weekend in September with a forest festival that will include demonstrations, music, activities for children, a run, hikes and exhibits.

A guest lecture series on relevant topics such as conservation and climate change will take place from August through May 2013.

“We’re trying to pull in some pretty good names,” said Christopher L. Westbrook, Ranger School director.

A student/alumni hockey game will take place Feb. 2 in Star Lake with a dinner dance at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The centennial will conclude with graduation in 2013.

As part of the centennial, a book, “The Ranger School: A Century in the Forest,” is being issued by Jim Coufal, class of 1957; Arnie Lanckton, class of 1953; and Bradley K. Woodward, the centennial committee chairman and the school’s food service manager.

The book, which will be available on, at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry bookstore in Syracuse and at other retailers, includes 75 photos and a compilation of essays and articles about the school.

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